Street party and three easy buffet dishes

by - October 09, 2010

The other weekend our street decided to have a party which was very lovely indeed. Neighbours shuffled past my window carrying tables, chairs and armfuls of homemade goodies. Even the 40 meters of bunting I painstakingly made for my wedding got another airing. We had a teddy bear's picnic for the kids, got dance lessons from a very cool 50s couple, treasure hunted, raffled (didn't win the Bill's hamper *sob*) and kept up with the Joneses. A local estate agent even sponsored us a hog roast, proving that estate agents are in fact rather useful for something* ;-)

As my plans were scuppered by a later than anticipated return from London (friends, wine, laughter - it happens) I streamlined my offerings with three easy-peasy, retro inspired entertaining dishes. These take no time at all and will be brilliant for pre-dinner canapes or part of a buffet. I noticed that my dishes disappeared really quickly which made me feel proper smug but there were some fantastic things to eat that people had brought. The person who presented a whole box of hot jacket potatoes was nothing short of a genius and the cakes were to die for.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Croustads

This recipe is adapted from the brilliant Meals in Heels cookbook. It uses cheap supermarket sliced bread to make the cases but you would never guess it! Next dinner party I'm having I shall be serving these up with a glass of Prosecco for a pre-dinner treat.

Makes 20

10 Thin slices of supermarket white bread
125ml Olive oil
15g Chives
200g Cream Cheese
1 Tablespoon baby capers, chopped finely
1 Unwaxed lemon
100g Smoked salmon - trimmings are fine

Preheat the oven to 180C. Using a pastry cutter, cut two 6cm rounds from each slice of bread. Using a rolling pin, flatten each side and brush with olive oil. Press the rounds into a mini-muffin tin. I found using the end of the rolling pin to squash it right in helped keep the shape. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 5 minutes until golden.

Using kitchen scissors, snip the chives into the cream cheese, also adding the capers and grated rind of the lemon and half the juice. Combine thoroughly. Place 1 teaspoon into each croustade case and top with a piece of smoked salmon.

Sun-dried Tomato, Olive and Cheese Pin Wheels

Makes 20

500g Pack of puff pastry (cheat!!)
3 Tbs sun-dried tomato paste
150g Cream cheese
Handful of finely chopped basil
A handful of black olives, pitted and chopped
100g Grated Gruyere cheese

Roll out your puff pastry into a large square until it is about 3mm thick. Spread the sun-dried tomato paste on top. Combine the herbs and cream cheese and spread this on top of the sun-dried tomato. Scatter over the olives and the Gruyere, season and roll the pastry up. Cover with cling film and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the pastry roll from the fridge, remove the clingfilm and slice into 1cm slices, placing on the lined baking tray.

Bake for 7 -10minutes or until golden. Remove onto a cooling rack so they don't go soggy on the base.

Custard and Nutmeg Yo-Yos

I was lent a copy of Marcus Wareing's Nutmeg and Custard cookbook and inadvertently chose this recipe. It's a fantastic book and contains lots of other recipes that don't involve er, nutmeg or custard. These butter-rich beauties were light, crunchy and very moorish.

Makes 12 sandwiched biscuits

150g unsalted butter softened
40g icing sugar sieved
2 tbsp custard powder
165g plain flour
1 nutmeg

80g unsalted butter softened
75g icing sugar sieved
2 tbsp custard powder

Cream the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Sieve the custard powder and flour together, then mix into the creamed butter. Roll the dough into a sausage shape, approximately 4cm in diameter, and wrap it tightly in clingfilm. (I was really worried that the pastry was far too soft but the recipe worked out great.) Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan.

Slice into 24 slices and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Grate the nutmeg over the top of the biscuits, then bake for 15-20 minutes until pale golden. Leave to cool on the baking tray.

For the filling, cream all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. When the biscuits are cold, sandwich them together with the filling and leave to set for 30 minutes.

*Only joking of course. Thank you Mishon Mackay, you are in no way the same box as the blood sucking, devil agents we used for our house purchase.

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